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Scaffold Standard Resurrected

Many construction Laborers work on or around scaffolds every day, and scaffold-related citations consistently top the list of OSHA’s most frequently cited standards. Therefore, the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) resurrection and adoption of A10.8, “Scaffolding Safety Requirements,” should help make workdays safer for the more than two million construction workers who find that being on the clock often involves elevated tasks.

General Scaffold Safety Guidance

  • Scaffold must be sound, rigid and sufficient to carry its own weight plus four times the maximum intended load without settling or displacement. It must be erected on solid footing.
  • Unstable objects, such as barrels, boxes, loose bricks or concrete blocks must not be used to support scaffolds or planks.
  • Scaffold must not be erected, moved, dismantled or altered except under the supervision of a competent person.
  • Scaffold must be equipped with guardrails, midrails and toeboards.
  • Scaffold accessories such as braces, brackets, trusses, screw legs or ladders that are damaged or weakened from any cause must be immediately repaired or replaced.
  • Scaffold platforms must be tightly planked with scaffold plank grade material or equivalent.
  • A competent person must inspect the scaffolding and, at designated intervals, reinspect it.
  • Rigging on suspension scaffolds must be inspected by a competent person before each shift and after any occurrence that could affect structural integrity to ensure that all connections are tight and that no damage to the rigging has occurred since its last use.
  • Synthetic and natural rope used in suspension scaffolding must be protected from heat-producing sources.
  • Employees must be instructed about the hazards of using diagonal braces as fall protection.
  • Scaffold can be accessed by using ladders and stairwells.
  • Scaffolds must be at least ten feet from electric power lines at all times.

[Under ANSI procedural rules, standards must be renewed every ten years. The process involves a review by the A10 committee every five years. A10.8 was not reviewed in the allotted time period, which led to it being dropped. In order to be recognized again, it had to be officially resurrected by the committee and re-adopted, in accordance with the Committee’s procedures.]

This standard establishes safety requirements for the construction, operation, maintenance and use of scaffolds in the construction, alteration, demolition and maintenance of buildings and structures. Its enforcement supplements OSHA’s scaffold standard (29 CFR 1926 Subpart L- Scaffolds ) and may help prevent some of the 4,500 injuries and over 60 deaths that scaffold work leads to every year. One out of every five fatal falls in construction is related to scaffolds. Falls occur when scaffolds are not erected properly or used properly. They also happen due to poor planning for assembly and disassembly, missing tie-ins or bracing, loads that are too heavy and being too close to power lines.

A10.8 is available in the latest version of the ANSI standards, the 2011 Edition. This release also includes new construction standards A10.1, “Pre-Project and Pre-Task Safety and Health Planning for Construction and Demolition Operations,” which establishes the elements and activities for pre-project and pre-task safety and health planning for construction, and A10.26, “Emergency Procedures for Construction and Demolition Sites,” which applies to emergency procedures involving fires, collapses, hazardous spills and other emergencies.

ANSI is a private, nonprofit organization that oversees the development of voluntary, consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems and personnel in the United States. Through its involvement with the International Organization for Standardization, it also ensures that imported products meet American standards and that standards developed in the U.S. are adopted as national standards by other countries. Compliance is voluntary, but because they are adopted through an extensive process designed to build consensus, these standards generally become accepted practice.

Copies of A10-8 and all other ANSI standards are available for purchase from the ANSI eStandards Store.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]

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